Between Limits. Escaping into the Concept
Two Cases: Ion Grigorescu and Dan Perjovschi
Ileana Pintilie - Intermedia Department of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest, 12 February 2010
The period 1965-1989 coincided, in Romania’s case, with the ascension to power of Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Party and the slow but predictable process of the installation of a personal dictatorship. In parallel with the official art, promoted by the political power and illustrating its ideology, several artists tried to make up “survival” techniques, avoiding the exhibitions of the communist mainstream as much as possible.
The way in which they took a distance was by tackling personal subjects, which, however, reflected the country’s political situation - the theme of the body (Ion Grigorescu), regarded as the ultimate form of individuality and intimacy, as opposed to the politically polluted public space, a critical reception of the political context, gliding towards a personal dictatorship. The development of experimental practices which opened the way for new forms of expression was basically targeted at ephemeral forms, at irony and social criticism.
Among these artistic practices, which were not acknowledged officially, there was experimental photography and film, which enabled the artists to come up with new and unexpected visual solutions. Many of these artistic ideas and concepts envisaged the process, trying to capture the development of an idea along a series of films, in performances in the middle of nature or in photographs recording these events.
Even if they worked in relative isolation, the Romanian artists managed to exhibit in alternative spaces sometimes - in cultural clubs or even in their own studios or flats. Others tried to communicate with each other freely and unconventionally, mail art offering an independent, ironic and subversive medium, as well as a way to defy censorship (Dan Perjovschi).
After the fall of communism, Dan Perjovschi’s evolution grew more conspicuous as the artist started to perform in public, trying to maintain a permanent contact with his viewers. At first, this was possible with the help of a type of conceptual performance, later, by means of a drawing performance, which always implies a dialogue with the viewers and a constant rapport with them. The artist developed the ephemeral and performative nature of his work, to the detriment of a “constructed”, museum-like kind of work.
Ileana Pintilie is an art historian and art critic, Professor at the West University, Faculty of Fine Arts in Timisoara, freelance curator.